That’s a phrase typically associated with people of the homosexual lifestyle, although as we’ll soon see, that’s a phrase which applies to many things in life. In short, it means a person is undertaking a lifestyle which is sure to bring down scorn if even their closest family members ever knew the truth. I used to think the term “being in the closet” had no personal meaning for me until I acquired my CCW permit and returned to Chicago for holiday leave. At the dinner table three Thanksgivings ago, after another vapid tirade about gun control from Channel 7, I let loose that I had a concealed weapons permit . . .
The tension at the table could be cut with a knife. Conversation between my mom and aunt instantly died as if a cable was cut. My uncle stared at my forehead like I was a national traitor. Then the fun began. Every member of my family save my own mother lit into me as if I’d declared war on equality itself. Why? Because I’m a young black man.
“WHY DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU NEED A GUN!!!”
“You know the white man sends guns into the ghetto so that young men like yourself kill each other!”
“Look, after this we need to TALK” said uncle. Literally.
Given that my appetite suddenly went downhill with the mood, I excused myself from the table and began the mental task of wondering how I could impart the truth of self-determination and the US Constitution to my uncle, a man I respected but lived his whole life in Illinois convinced that anything to do with firearms was a mark of personal evil.
I needn’t have worried. I never had the chance to even open my mouth.
“Just sit there and listen. You’re young and you think guns are cool and all that. But I’ve been there. I’ve seen people act a fool around them. I went to college too, man. I’ve seen what people are capable of when they’re pissed and have a weapon. Just promise me you’ll consider selling whatever gun you have. A real man doesn’t need a gun to stand on his own two feet.”
Why should you care about this searing personal anecdote? Because in minority cultures all over America, that’s the community attitude. Firearms are not tools of defense, instruments of sport or even devices of family enjoyment as they are in the country. Guns represent two things to minority families: abuse of power by the the police, who have a nasty record in every major urban area of America of using weapons to gun down people under legally and ethically questionable circumstances, and criminals doing the same thing and shooting innocent people in the process.
So, we have this “death spiral” in major urban areas where ethnic residents, used to seeing guns used by criminals and cops to break the law, associate weapons with evil. Being ignorant of the truth, they vote for politicians who vow to restrict firearm use which results in anti-gun laws being passed, which creates a larger knowledge vacuum about firearms, which triggers more fear when bad things do happen involving weapons, and so on and so forth.
Unless we in the firearms community do our best to break the cultural and political knowledge vacuum in minority America, we will at best become a nation of Two Americas. One where the Constitution only applies so long as you’re 50 miles away from a major population center. Or, worse, the day comes when the city men and women amass enough political power to utterly crush the rural folk who disagree with gun control. We already see that dynamic in Illinois where Chicago’s concentration of people forever condemns rural Illinois to their lead, whether they like Chicago or not.
We cannot afford to leave the future minority members of America to the antis. Mr. Colion Noir is not a one-man act. There are thousands like him who are into guns and gun rights, but cannot “come out of the closet” knowing it will cost them their families’ and their community standing. These are folks we need to make an effort to welcome, and to do our best to change the culture in the cities to one friendly to firearms instead of the opposite.
Our rights literally depend on it. If we don’t take steps now as consumers, shooters, competitors, industry leaders, FFLs, marketers, producers, designers, and promoters to bring the light of the Constitution to the urban minorities of America, we will reap the dreadful consequences.